Which movies have today’s filmmakers been watching in quarantine? Michael Mann, director of Heat (1995) and Public Enemies (2009), chose a classic crime drama which also gave Marilyn her first big break. “When was the last time you saw Asphalt Jungle?” Michael asked readers of Vulture.com. “I have seen it about three times. It’s fantastic. It doesn’t [get the respect today that it should].”
The only live performance of Bombshell (the Marilyn-themed musical from TV’s Smash) can now be streamed here. Donations to the Actors Fund are welcome. Meanwhile, Variety reports that a stage musical based on Smash is heading to Broadway, as well as a new adaptation of Some Like It Hot, also penned by Bombshell composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
“Like the series, the stage show will follow the efforts to mount Bombshell, the Broadway musical-within-a-musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. However, its backers said the plot will also deviate from that of the series. Some characters such as writers Julia and Tom (played by Debra Messing and Christian Borle on the small screen), as well as stars Ivy and Karen (portrayed on TV by Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee) will still be central to the storyline. Other details are being kept under wraps, presumably until opening night.”
If you’re still in lockdown or just looking for a Marilyn-related read, I can recommend three of the best recent publications here.
Amanda Konkle’s Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe looks in depth at her film career, and is available on Kindle for £9.85 (or $18.87.) With The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, on Kindle for £3.99 (or $4.59), Michelle Morgan focuses on Marilyn’s Hollywood battles and escape to New York. And for those interested in uncovering mysteries, Donald McGovern’s Murder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death, on Kindle for £5.19 (or $9.99) is essential reading.
From the team behind Goodnight Marilyn comes a new podcast series. Based on Gary Vitacco Robles’ two-volume biography, the first season ofMarilyn: Behind the Icon is now available online, with Erin Gavin playing Marilyn.
“Marilyn: Behind the Icon is a multi-season podcast series blending a uniquely scripted episodic story with commentary on the remarkable life of Marilyn Monroe. It’s up-close, raw and real; telling her story through extensively researched historical events, including Marilyn Monroe’s own perspective in her own words. We explore her inner journey and human side as no other podcast, film or TV show has ever done before. The series portrays her personal struggles with childhood trauma, mental illness, and addiction in addition to her amazing resiliency in achieving her dreams as one of the greatest actresses and icons in motion picture history.”
Julien’s Auctions are holding an online sale of Marilyn-related photos and memorabilia, ending on June 1st (her 94th birthday.) Here are some highlights.
Program for the 1972 exhibition, Marilyn Monroe: The Legend and the Truth, curated by Lawrence Schiller; and catalogue for The Berniece and Mona Rae Miracle Collection, a Sotheby’s online auction from 2001.
Photos of a young Marilyn by Andre de Dienes
Original still photo and lobby card from River of No Return (1954.)
2017 real estate brochure for Marilyn’s last home at 5th St Helena Drive, L.A.
UPDATE: View results here
Marilyn’s affair with her Let’s Make Love co-star Yves Montand (captured here by photographer John Bryson) makes the cover of a Paris Match special issue about celebrity romances – you can order it here.
And by the way, Fraser Penney has shared this very similar cover from another Paris Match special, released in 1990. Although Marilyn’s dalliance with Yves came at a low point in her life, he remains an iconic figure in France. Incidentally, he also had a less-publicised affair with another married star, Shirley MacLaine, on the set of My Geisha (1962.)
A group of professional photographers have created isolation self-portraits for the Washingtonian. Among them, Jada Imani M took inspiration from Marilyn and the glamour of classic Hollywood (she also reminds me of the great Dorothy Dandridge here.)
“During this quarantine I have been faced with my own personal insecurities in relation to my appearance. I knew for a while I was not completely confident in my looks, but now I am forced to face my issues head on. I found some photos from a Marilyn Monroe calendar I was gifted years ago—ever since I was little, I knew Marilyn Monroe was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, a timeless beauty. Those photos inspired me to create this self-portrait series in a similar fashion and reminded me that I am a timeless beauty as well.”
The British poet Helen Morton has contributed a new poem, ‘Ms. Monroe,’ to the New York Times, as part of the ‘Mrs. Files‘ project, “looking at history through a contemporary lens to see what the honorific ‘Mrs.’ means to women and their identity.” (The illustration shown above is by Alf Buttons’ Revenge, based on a photo by Eve Arnold and a quote from Marilyn: “A career is made in public, talent in private.”)
“‘In America, a blonde is not just a blonde.’ — William K. Zinsser
When I first let the mirror see me
in my high-street wedding dress, I lift the hem
and laugh into the lace, all mock-Monroe,
her skirt a breaking wave, her open mouth, her head
tipped back, accepting a communion wafer from the sky.
I press my fingers to the glass and feel them
pass through each reflection, every photograph
and — sweet impossibility — rest against the raised hand
of The Other Marilyn, not poster girl but poet,
the woman who filled notebooks with her nightmares,
dreams of emptying: the slab of the operating table,
the eminent doctors, the neat incision and its big
reveal, her insides nothing but sawdust. Marilyn
Monroe: not Mrs. Miller, Mrs. DiMaggio.
We have been wearing our white dresses
far too long — squeezing into spotlit silk, chiffon
the colour of nothing. Palm to palm in the mirror,
she swims towards me now and surfaces,
tears at her cream bodice, opens the skin
underneath, unfolds her heart and lungs
and what’s within her isn’t dust or hollowness
but a litany, a roll call, the true names of men:
Diego Kahlo, Johnny Carter, Jackson Krasner,
Martin Luther Scott and in the nameless dusk
she repeats them all until they seem beautiful.
I can’t stop reading her lips.”
In March, it was reported that a new musical adaptation of Some Like It Hot would open in Chicago next year (see here.) But as Playbill reports today, it will now go straight to Broadway in Autumn 2021. With music by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman – the songwriting team behind TV’s Smash – and a script by Matthew Lopez, this is not the only stage musical inspired by Marilyn’s comedy classic. The first, Sugar (1972), is still frequently revived in repertory theatres worldwide.